For some bosses, appearing busy is more important than actual productivity and results. Many office workers adapt to this system and unnecessarily drag out their work or take a dozen coffee breaks daily. Meanwhile, overachievers might be left confused as to why they have to pretend to work when they’ve already done everything they needed to, twice or even thrice as fast as everyone else.
That’s one of the weird things about many modern white-collar companies: there’s a lot of pretense going on. And one redditor, who is extremely productive, reported his firsthand experience with this on the r/MaliciousCompliance subreddit. He’d get through their work in just a few hours. His boss, however, told him that he would have to be “doing something at all times,” leaving no “time gaps” in his work at all.
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Scroll down to read how they approached this charged situation about fake productivity. Have you ever been in a similar situation before at work, Pandas? What would you do if you were in the OP’s shoes? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Bored Panda got in touch with the author of the viral post to get his opinion about management practices, the current 9 to 5 workday, and what advice he’d give office workers who might be in similar situations as him. Read on for our full interview.
Not all overachievers get rewarded for better productivity. Some of them get reprimanded
Image source: Andrea Piacquadio (not the actual photo)
An office worker shared his boss’ unfair demands, once they figured out they were twice as efficient as everyone else
Image source: Castorly Stock (not the actual photo)
“I would think that when it comes to dragging out work, it is most likely due to the management style of those above the workers,” the author of the post shared their opinion as to why employees drag out their work with Bored Panda. A lot depends on who’s in charge and what they value.
“I’ve had jobs where there’s a lot of downtime and managers understand that, and then jobs where downtime was viewed as time ‘wasted’ by higher-ups.”
The redditor shared their thoughts about the current way that the workday is structured in offices.
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“I believe we could function under a shorter workday and complete the same amount of work, possibly with greater productivity. It’s been proven before in studies done around the world. People must come to accept that we don’t need to work as much as we think,” he said.
One study that he referred to looked at 100 businesses in the United Kingdom that shortened the work week to 4 days (aka 32 hours). Researchers found that productivity remained the same. The compensation was also maintained stable, as though employees worked the standard 5-day work week.
“If someone completes their work quickly and with accuracy and instead of being rewarded with compensation is given a heavier workload, I would suggest attempting to speak with their leader about it and how they feel their ability to complete more work should reflect in their pay or compensation,” the redditor gave some spot-on advice.
“If that is frowned upon or not received well, I would suggest keeping your options open to other employment opportunities.”
When they see someone who’s productive and an overachiever, some bosses choose to dump even more work on them. However, that’s clearly unfair, as all the other employees are (usually) getting paid the exact same amount of money to do far less work.
Dragging work out appears to be a form of modern survival in the office. This means that, broadly speaking, office spaces at large companies are incredibly bad environments to stand out. You’re more likely to be overworked than receive a promotion. Though that’s not to say that all companies do that. Some managers really do value (additional) effort and actual productivity. It’s just that you can’t expect everyone to be a good and fair workplace leader… unfortunately.
One study that looked at the productivity of nearly 2k British office workers in 2016 found that the average amount of time worked every day was just shy of 3 hours, standing at 2 hours and 53 minutes. Now combine that with a 2018 study that looked at the habits of 1k American workers which found that 36% of millennial and generation Z employees spend around 2 hours of each workday, distracted by their phones. Clearly, offices aren’t the most productive of places.
In an ideal and much more honest world, there would be 4-to-6-hour workdays, 4 days a week. Unless there’s a major deadline coming, someone’s just started a new position, or the job itself is extremely time-sensitive, generally, office workers are much more capable than they might appear. When push comes to shove, people rise to the challenge.
But in the day-to-day monotony, which smells of printer ink and old coffee, there’s not much motivation to rush or push harder. Many people put in the minimum effort required to not be fired.
Have you ever spoken to your friends who work white-collar jobs? If they ever truly open up about their daily struggles, you might realize that they can get everything done extremely quickly. This makes sense: as you gain more and more experience, you sharpen your skills and streamline your working process.
Barely anyone works the full 8-or-so ‘official’ hours because it doesn’t take that long to do quality work. That’s not to mention the very simple fact that fully concentrating for that amount of time is extremely draining. The Washington Post notes that your ability to focus is limited to around 4 to 5 hours each day.
Some bosses, however, demand that you at least appear like you’re busy during that time. This leads to a very paradoxical situation where everyone’s pretending that their tasks are far more difficult and time-consuming than they really are. It’s a world of smoke, mirrors, and fake productivity. Oh, you get results, sure. But there just seems to be so much time wasted, on all fronts, for the sake of keeping up a pleasant illusion of tireless industriousness.
The author of the post added some more details about his work and department in the comments
Meanwhile, here’s how some internet users reacted to the post, and what advice they gave the employee
Other internet users shared some similar stories from their own jobs